Pandemic Pondering #526

We had a fabulous bob this morning. The sea was cool and bumpy and we had two invisiting bobbers from Oxford, both with the skills required, bobbing obviously and nattering. The more gregarious of the two guest bobbers got into conversation with a gentleman who had, he said, retired from the glamour industry. Women writhing to keep their bits covered up must have been quite a novelty for him.

Writhing occurs during the changing phase. Relatively easy during the dry change but post swim all sorts of curious movements occur, sea water and cold skin can be a sticky pairing. Even the simplest garment can become a tenaciously gripping piece of fabric, intent on clinging in the wrong place.

In other news a new cook book has arrived @theoldmortuary . Med by Claudia Rodin. The waves in the blog come from the cookbook not Plymouth Sound.

There is an update on Pandemic Pondering #524.

Only 24 hours after a few bobbers had watched the cremated remains of an unknown person belatedly drift into the bay, other bobbers visited for an evening swim. Two high and two low tides had occured and had returned the roses to the high tide point. Once again bobbers gently returned the floral tributes to the sea. Whilst we are in thoughtful mode I can share a poem about swimming in a cold sea that Angela Bobber shared on our Bobbing WhatsApp group

©Samantha Reynolds

https://instagram.com/bentlily?utm_medium=copy_link

The link above takes to you to Samantha Reynolds Instagram page.

Bobbers don’t particularly fill their swims with worries of rocks and sharks. We have smaller fears, eels and seals with caves full of plundered treasures and enchanted seaweed with the power to grab ankles. It’s all in the mind, of course, but we never allow fantasy or fact ruin good conversations or good bobbing.

Pandemic Pondering #524

We had a great Wednesday night bob last night. On leaving the water we realised we were not alone. A person, unknown to us, had had their ashes scattered on the beach earlier in the evening. Obviously the tide had not quite done what their family and friends had intended and they had been dumped, by the retreating tide, near the low water mark.

There were only four bobbers on the beach and it made us a little sad to think of someones loved one just waiting there alone for a final swim into infinity. Then the tide turned and they were off.

Delicate, swirling, white, whisps of ash and sea-water gently leaving the beach and heading for the sunset.

Pandemic Pondering #482

A shameless dogblog. Low tide this morning and an empty beach gave the dogs a rare chance to scamper on the beach. Lola is perfectly camouflaged on her new local beach.

Hugo, of course, would only be camouflaged at pure white tropical beaches, which are not local to us.

It’s not only our swimming hobby that stops them visiting the beach often. They have very low respect for other people’s activities. The peaceful activities of strangers are their main interest, book reading or yoga are activities to step away from the hurly burly of regular life. Neither experience is enhanced by a furry nose and whiskers snuffling extremities, however unthreatening the intention.

They also snuffle limpets who do not react.

Pandemic Pondering #465

Bobbing with bubbles is not a regular piece of behaviour at all but this had not been a normal bobbing week. Even more unusually we managed to use a Winston Churchill quote in the after swim nattering session. Friday bobbing is the most regular session and happens at about 10:30 each Friday morning.

This was our first Friday swim since moving house. Apparently we need to hurry up because the water is lovely once you get in!

Our first Wednesday day swim after moving featured a pod of Dolphins. Friday featured Pol Roger Champagne!

Bobbers getting giddy before noon is definitely not normal. New house owners getting giddy before more unpacking is surprisingly effective. Although not in all corners of a room.

A tidy sofa is essential for a little post-bob, post Pol Roger siesta. It is almost certain that Winston Churchill would not have needed a siesta after drinking Pol Roger in the morning. It was his favourite champagne and he drank it with a traditional Full-English breakfast often. Thankfully we don’t have his responsibilities or the budget for such a lifestyle. But just once with the lovely Bobbers after a sparkling swim was just perfect. Our bobbing friend Helen provided the Champagne. She also gave us the chance to hear her sharing her voice in a graffiti- decorated disused grain store not far from our Bobbing Zone.

Follow the link below to hear her voice paired with great acoustics and gorgeous Street Art.

Jenny of Oldstones performed by Helen Bobber.

A remarkable day in the Tamar Valley.

Pandemic Pondering #458

Summer Saturdays are an early morning swim.

Although at low tide the first bit is a bit of a wade through seaweed beds and rough stones. The ferries to France have become more regular swimming neighbours.

Saturdays are also about loving a friends picture of Fanny the Gipsy Hill cat completely owning the Oyster/Card reader, no fare dodgers on Fanny’s shift.

©Keith Hide

Saturdays are about enjoying new poppies in a friends garden, grown from seed from our own poppies @theoldmortuary

©Kim Cole
@theoldmortuary

And currently Saturdays are about loads of domestic admin, represented here by Peonies and the dining table which looks calm in this picture but has been a dumping ground for all sorts of stuff in the last few hours.

All clear and ready to be filled with even more stuff in a few hours. Summer Saturdays are currently about being busy!

Pandemic Pondering#454

Summer solstice, the longest day in the Northern Hemisphere has been rather a damp squib. ( A squib is a small firework, a damp one does not go off. Thus a damp squib of a day fails to live up to expectation.) The dawn swim occurred with a backdrop of gently changing greys and raindrops landing on our salty faces. The Bobbers, of course, were a brightly coloured pod of swimmers all there to be in the water at sunrise to support the three Bobbers who were in the water to swim a kilometre for a local charity. Dry land supporters were also there. Visible sunrise, or not, the elite Bobbers raised just over £800 for local charity Barefoot Project.

https://www.barefoot.org.uk/

The gap between sunrise and sunset continued to be a damp and grey day but a solstice is a solstice and Bobbers who could not make the early morning dip commited to swimming at sunset.

The sun turned up just in time to set, like a friend who makes it to an agreed meeting five minutes before everyone else has to leave. Not one to just slip in quietly the sun was spectacular.

Even blessing the Madonna with a large coffee cup with some rainbow bathing, what a difference 16 hours makes!

Eventually only two Bobbers made both a sunrise and sunset swim.

But it was a day well lived.

Pandemic Pondering #449

Pondering one of the positives of a Pandemic. The past 18 months have been a tough trot for most humans but for the Bobbers and their guest bobbers a somewhat drenched Phoenix is rising from the unlikely ashes that is a small beach in a city.

Plymouth is known as the Atlantic City. The Bobbers were mostly unknown to each other a year ago. A tiny group of old friends swam together once last June and thought no more about it. Then in September as it became obvious that the Pandemic was a more permanent feature in our lives we did it again. The next stage is as random as a new variant emerging. The tiny group of friends were all dog owners and because we were in a pandemic and talking for longer with people we met on our dog walks, we inevitably started chatting about our swimming activity.

This was happening on either side of the River Tamar, the border between Devon and Cornwall. Talking with other dog walkers covers a wide variety of random subjects with strangers. Strangers who also liked the idea of swimming in our local patch of the Atlantic. Bobbing became a thing, a WhatsApp group was formed. Initially we didnt even know each others names. As dog walkers often do we only knew each other as Ralph’s mum, or dad, Stan’s mums or even the lady who borrows a neighbours dog. About 25 people have swum with the Bobbers now, there is a core membership but guest bobbers are a regular occurance. Dog ownership is not essential, talking to people you don’t know is helpful. We have swum several times a week right through the winter, we have shared life events together. Last night was the first Summertime Birthday Bob, a far less clothed or huddled event than the Wintertime Birthday Bobs.

And for once warm enough for people to pose as a group without freezing their bits off.

Happy Birthday Kim Bobber

Pandemic Pondering #437

Goodness it has been a busy couple of weeks. In reality what I’m probably saying, in the context of 16 months of living through a World Pandemic. Is that I’ve had a couple of almost normal weeks. It is not my body that has noticed, particularly, but my mind. I constantly worry that I have forgotten something but actually haven’t, so far.

Yesterday I introduced a Tamar Valley friend to Tranquility bay. Tranquility Bay is just to the east of the perilously swirling waters of Devils Point where the River Tamar enters Plymouth Sound. She lives with her family,near the river, in the Historically Industrial and Horticultural areas about 10 miles upstream. It is surprising how little known these beautiful and unspoilt beaches are, even to people who live fairly close by. Seeing somewhere familiar through new eyes is always enlightening . Also because I was not swimming the dogs got to walk there too so it was a double bonus visit.

Visits for bobbing at Tranquility Bay have been quite social events this week. Family members coming along to bask in the sun and see the location of our year round swimming ( bobbing) adventures. Today was a red letter day, visitors and a full turnout of the new hoodies.

Tranquility Bay and Devils Point did not allow us to be the only vibrant attractions.

Even a flower was out being vivid  while clinging to the wall.

All this activity fueled by a Hutong Bagel!

The same bagel is attempting camouflage on the header image.

Pandemic Pandemic #367

Starting Thursday with Maritime Sunburst Lichen because the day has actually started with rain.

Yesterday evening though was graced with a lovely sunset and an increase in water temperature of 1 degree. We were giddy with the tropicality of our evening swim. Five months of winter swimming in the same location might seem a little dull and I suppose excitement at a tiny improvement in water temperature only enhances the dullness quota. Tranquility Bay is the lovely name of our swimming destination but it doesnt really describe the swimming conditions. Tranquility Bay is a beach on Devils Point opposite Drakes Island. Darwin set off on what was to be the voyage that inspired and informed his later work ‘A Theory of Evolution’ from Barn Pool a bay opposite both Devils Point and Drakes Island.

Drakes Island

The origin of the name Devils Point is uncertain but 7 currents converge nearby making this area of water dangerous to navigate.

Tranquility Bay is a little way from the convergence point of these currents but they still play a vital part in our regular swims.

When we arrive for our dip all bundled up in warm clothing we lean over the sea wall to assess the days swim. If any of us were beardy men there would be a lot of beard tugging as we sagely consider the quality and safety of our swim. In truth we never really know until we get in. Appearances are deceptive and knowing the tide times, wind direction and weather are helpful but cannot predict what is going on under the surface. Sometimes the most unappealing looking days turn out to be a delightful swim and the reverse can so easily be true.

All this is, I suppose, a long preamble to a description of my curious feeling during last nights swim. It was at sunset and the water temperature was 9.6 degrees so everything was pretty chilly. I was doing my usual paddle across the width of the bay. I was swimming towards the sunset and I had a strange sense of being somewhere else. The whole swim felt like the last swim of a much enjoyed holiday, just as it is on holiday, it was hard to get out of the water and break the magic of the moment.

I took this shot the moment I got out. Had this been a holiday I might be enjoying this view with a good coffee and a plate of seafood having barely bothered to dress

The reality in March in Plymouth was somewhat different. A flask of Horlicks and a square of chocolate while squeezing cold damp skin into warm layers of clothes. None of them quite layering correctly on imperfectly dried skin.

A good way to end a day though.